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The fierce art of management

Tony Cascarino explains why Souness lost his cool and offers advice on signings to Fergie

Tony Cascarino, 25 Mar 2004

The thing that surprises me most about Graeme Souness’ on the pitch bust-up with Dwight Yorke is him not realising that by taking part in five-a-sides he’s encouraging players with a grievance to have a go at him. You’d be saying to one of the lads on the same side as Graeme, “Make sure you leave him a ball short so I can go straight through him.” That’s common practice with players who’ve been dropped or given what they feel is an unfair bollicking. It happened all the time at Chelsea to Glen Hoddle, which he quite enjoyed because it gave him the chance to show off his tricks. One manager you didn’t clobber because he’d give it back to you with interest was Dave Webb. Do him and five minutes later you could be stretchered off!

Seriously, though, I agree with George Graham’s adage about not buying players who think they’re doing you a favour coming to your club. My impression is that Dwight and Andy Cole both consider being at Blackburn as beneath them, which is out of order given that they’re on a hundred grand a week between them. That said, managers often take over at a club thinking that what they’ve achieved in their own careers will automatically gain them respect. It doesn’t. You have to work every bit as hard as you did as a player to prove yourself.

Another manager who’s been getting it in the neck this past fortnight is Alex Ferguson. I know there’s been talk of him being made an offer he can’t refuse to go to Rangers, but no matter how much money’s involved it’s going to be a step down after being at Old Trafford. Alex knows that, Martin O’Neill’s success at Celtic aside, people in the game belittle the SPL. You can win it ten times in a row and, really, it doesn’t count for a whole lot.

As long as the PLC make enough money available, I reckon he’ll stay at Old Trafford and start the rebuilding work that so obviously needs doing. The first thing I’d do is get £12 or £13 million off them and hijack Liverpool’s signing of Djibril Cisse.

Like Thierry Henry – whom he’s going to one day replace in the French team – Cisse is quick, strong, good in the air and loves running at defences. He scores goals but is just as good as a provider, which will be welcome news for Ruud van Nistelrooy who’s desperately missing the service that David Beckham used to provide. The only reason he won’t be one of the stars at the European Championships is that he’s got five-match ban from the France team. Cisse’s obviously concerned that Gerard Houlier mightn’t be at Anfield next season, so Man U should get straight in there.

After that Alex should get on to Juventus and see if they’ll sell him Edgar Davids who’s currently on loan at Barcelona and very much in the Roy Keane mould. He’s only 30, so he’s got a couple of good seasons left in him and, with those glasses of his, will do wonders for United’s merchandising!

Forget promising youngsters, what United need now is tried and tested experience.

Fergie’s big mistake this season is not bringing in an old fashioned defender like Gareth Southgate. Everybody’s going on about the Rio Ferdinand suspension causing their dip in form, but ask Man U supporters how many £30 million performances he’s put in and they’ll tell you “not enough.”

Was I surprised about them losing to Manchester City? No, I had them backed to get done half-time/full-time by Kevin Keegan’s men. When you attack like United do, you need guys at the back who can really defend and, I’m sorry, that’s not Wes Brown or John O’Shea.

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